Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chinese Steamed Buns

Char Sui Bao. I pronounce it bow as in put a bow in your hair. These are great little portable morsels of meat and bread. Normally they are part of a dim-sum luncheon. Mmmmmm. If you have never had a dim-sum experience, I highly recommend it. When I left San Francisco, the main thing that I missed was the eclectic selection of restaurants. You could eat at any time of the day or night in any type of restaurant. Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Soul Food, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese.... you name it. It is a foodie's heaven. I learned to cook many of these ethnic dishes out of self defense when I moved to an area that had basically the blue plate special type of restaurant. Nothing wrong with diner fare, in fact I have some great comfort food recipies that I wil post at a later date. However, variety is the spice of life.

I've made this recipe for years based on a cookbook that my Aunt Rachel brought back from the Philippines where she and her Air Force Colonel husband were stationed. The wives of the officers were pretty much bored with lots of time on their hands. They spent their time taking classes and of course shopping. In addition to learning how to cook oriental food, she could also make and arrange silk flowers Japanese style. She was quite the elegant lady and a world traveler.

Often I will make Bao ahead of time and either reheat them for a snack or just put into a lunchbox to take to work. They are also good camping fare because they can be put into a backpack without harm and eaten cold.


1/2 tsp yeast
2/3 cup warm water
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp sugar
3 Tbs sugar

1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 lbs pork, cubed small (march chopped)
1 Tbs sherry (or sake)
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs soy sauce

DOUGH: Dissolve yeast in water. Add flour, salt and sugar. Knead well. Cover with a wet cloth and let rise until the dough doubles. Prepare filling while the dough rises. Roll out dough slightly and cut into 12 pieces. Roll or form with fingers into 3 inch rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Place 2 tbsp of prepared filling in the center and bring up sides to the top. Pinch closed. Place seam side down and let rise. for 20 minutes.

FILLING: In a small dish combine the 1 tbsp sherry, 2 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1/4 cup of water. Stir and set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan add the pork and cook stirring 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook two more minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook 30 seconds more. Cool mixture before adding to the dough rounds.

To cook the dumplings. Use a bamboo steamer or other rack. Spray rack with cooking spray or use a layer of lettuce leaves. Cover and steam for 20 minutes.

If you like a sweet dessert roll, instead of savory, use fermented sweetened bean paste as the filling instead of meat.

March Chopping. Technique. Using a chinese cleaver or good sharp chopping knife you rock the knife back and forth through the meat. More or less marching it through the meat. Take the cleaver and flip the meat over and continue marching and chopping and flipping, until the meat is fairly finely chopped. For this recipe I chop the pork into pieces about the size of peas.

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